The comments were part of an essay that were posted to the website of China’s embassy in France on Sunday. Titled “Restoring distorted facts – Observations of a Chinese diplomat posted to Paris”, the essay made a blistering attack on the West’s attempts to deal with the COVID-19 health crisis. The author criticised Western states for their slow and complacent response to the outbreak of the killer virus, before taking aim at French nursing staff in care homes for the elderly.
The writer denounced French carers for “abandoning their posts overnight….and leaving their residents to die of hunger and disease.”
The comments enraged France’s political community, with politicians jumping to the defence of nursing staff.
The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, summoned the Chinese ambassador, Lu Shaye, for a meeting at his offices on the Quai d’Orsay.
In a statement issued later, Mr Le-Drian said: “I made clear my disapproval of certain recent comments when the ambassador… was summoned this morning.”
The Foreign Minister added: “There is no room for polemics and France is working strongly in favour of unity, solidarity and the greatest international cooperation.
“The acts of reciprocal solidarity between China and France bear witness to our desire to face this in a coordinated way.”
This latest attack on Western government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic appears to be part of a campaign by Beijing to deflect blame from itself for the global health crisis.
Critics have accused China of trying to initially cover up the scale of its own COVID-19 crisis, as well as downplaying its seriousness, which some argue impacted the rest of the world’s response to the killer virus.
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Chinese officials initially told WHO experts that the disease was not transmissible between human beings, although this turned out to be false.
Moreover, a Chinese doctor, Li Wenliang, was reprimanded by security authorities when he tried to alert the world to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, by sharing lab reports with an online chat group.
The doctor later died of COVID-19, having contracted it while treating patients in hospital.
In recent weeks Beijing has increasingly tried to lay the blame for the pandemic at the feet of Western governments.
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In March, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian pointed the finger of blame at the United States.
In a series of tweets posted that month, Mr Zhao implied that the coronavirus may have been deliberately spread by the US military.
The Foreign Minister appeared to be trying to link the US Army’s participation in the international Military World Games held in Wuhan in October last year, with the subsequent outbreak of the lethal virus.
The claim was vigorously dismissed by US officials, who called it a baseless “conspiracy theory”.
A spokesman for the Trump administration told reporters: “China is seeking to deflect criticism for its role in starting a global pandemic and not telling the world.
“Spreading conspiracy theories is dangerous and ridiculous.”
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